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Maria Sharapova loses on a crazy day at Wimbledon

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(Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)

Maria Sharapova hasn’t lost to a player outside the top 20 in her last 59 matches. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)

WIMBLEDON, England — No. 3 Maria Sharapova crashed out of Wimbledon on Wednesday, losing 6-3, 6-4 to qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal in the second round. Sharapova’s loss occurred on a day when the courts at the All England Club came under fire for a high number of slips and falls. Sharapova lost her footing several times, and a nasty fall in the first round led Victoria Azarenka, the other top seed in Sharapova’s half of the draw, to withdraw Wednesday with a knee injury.

Three thoughts on Sharapova’s shocking loss:

1. Sharapova couldn’t overcome a stellar performance by a former prodigy: Larcher de Brito may not be a household name, but she’s as well known for her pedigree as she is for her whooping grunt. The 20-year-old came up through the Bollettieri program, like Sharapova, and made a name for herself when she rose to a career high of No. 76 in 2009. Now ranked No. 131, she played three matches to qualify for Wimbledon, and defeated Melanie Oudin in three sets in the first round. Her level of play against Sharapova made her look like a top-30 player; she consistently struck the ball on the rise at the baseline and smacked down the lines with great effect.

On the other hand, Sharapova simply looked flat, missing returns she normally makes and struggling to break her younger opponent’s surprisingly effective serve. Sharapova, who admitted she had an off day and wasn’t aggressive enough, couldn’t seem to get her teeth into the match until it was too late. As Larcher de Brito served for the match at 5-4, Sharapova got the game to deuce and fought off four match points before finally succumbing to her opponent’s constant pressure.

“I give her a lot of credit,” Sharapova said. “I think she played extremely well today. She was really solid from the baseline. I don’t feel like I was aggressive enough, that I hit the ball deep enough. I wasn’t ready after the returns or the serves. She’s someone that plays extremely aggressive. I just wasn’t there.”

2. Court conditions have to be questioned: Part of the problem for Sharapova was her footing. She fell three times during the rallies on the No. 2 Court, where Caroline Wozniacki slipped and injured her foot in the match before. Sharapova told the chair umpire that the courts were dangerous. She needed to call the trainer after her third tumble, which seemed to strain her hip.

“Well, after I buckled my knee three times, that’s obviously my first reaction,” Sharapova said of her message to the umpire. “And because I’ve just never fallen that many times in a match before. Those are the conditions that are there for my opponent, as well. Just took a lot more falls than she did today.”

Sharapova was the third match on No. 2 Court on Wednesday, which means she spent much of the day watching players hit the deck.

“I just noticed a few more players falling a bit more than usual,” she said. “And understandably the first couple of days, they’re always a bit like that, but I don’t think I’ve seen as much as I have maybe in the last few years.”

Wednesday featured a record seven retirements or walkovers in singles and one retirement in doubles because of injuries. While the men’s injuries appear to be pre-existing or freak accidents, the players have been slipping and falling at an alarming rate this year. How much of it is related to the condition of the courts and how much of it is just the difficult transition from clay to grass? Wozniacki refused to make a causal link, but she admitted the surface feels different this year.

“I find them a little bit slower, first of all,” she said. “I don’t know if the grass is a little longer, what it is. But, yeah, I think they’re more similar to the Olympics last year than they were to Wimbledon last year.”

3. Get ready for a surprise finalist: On a day with seven retirements or walkovers, both the men’s and women’s draws are hanging by a thread. Azarenka’s withdrawal seemed to have paved the way for Sharapova to make the final without much challenge. Now that both the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds are out of the bottom half of the draw, the highest remaining seed is painfully erratic former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. This is a huge opportunity for someone in that half, including Sloane Stephens, who is into the third round after defeating Andrea Petkovic.

  • Published On Jun 26, 2013
  • 26 comments
    14owg60
    14owg60

    Pulmonary Embolisms do not always come from doping.  I've had one due to a twisted ankle. I don't dope.  A co-worker of mine is currently on blood thinners now due to a pulmonary embolism as a result from a fall that injured her ankle as well. My cousin had a pulmonary embolism after taking a long flight from New Jersey to California.  They don't dope.  This concludes my conversations with you.  Please don't respond to me anymore because it's obvious your level of knowledge is insulting to the medical industry.  

    Original_Beyondthebull
    Original_Beyondthebull

    This was a screamfest.  Sharapova was outplayed.  The ESPN broadcast folks spent a lot of time providing excuses for the loss.  All of us who watch saw an 'underdog' slay a giant.  I loved it!!

    dayo1026_2000
    dayo1026_2000

    Why give all of these excuses for Sharapova's loss.  She simply got out-played.  This same writer is quick to praise Sloane Stephens for defeating a hobbled Serena Williams at the Aussie Open.  And anyone who watched the match knows that Serena had a bad ankle and back injury.  Still I commend Stephens for the victory.  But why does the writer have to make excuses for Sharapova's loss.  Give credit to de Brito for out-playing Sharapova.  They both played under the same conditions on the same court. 

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

    told screamapova that she and her team need to rethink screaming with each shot. she screamed herself right out of the tournament.

    14owg60
    14owg60

    @Original_Beyondthebull You are so correct.  I am relieved that I was not the only one who noticed it.  They always make excuses for her.  During the game, they not only made excuses for her, but they also kept saying what she needed to do.  They gave her opponent no credit.  Her opponent was the underdog. They should have been telling her what to do.  Masha was outplayed and I am glad that some of these younger girls are not intimidated by her or the press.

    14owg60
    14owg60

    @dayo1026_2000 I agree so much with what you said.  You are on target!  Remember, Masha gets to have an excuse for her shoulder injury for YEARS while Serena's pulmonary embolism and etc. gets no consideration.  And yes, the swollen ankle when she played Sloane.  They will never admit it.  To say that there is not enough time to prepare for grass tournament after the French Open is ridiculous. The excuses they come up with.  I heard for Federa's loss it's because of his age.  For Rafa and Masha, it's because there not enough time to get acclimated to grass.  BULL!

    ChrisM
    ChrisM

    @dayo1026_2000 Maybe Courtney gave her too many excuses (don't agree actually, more like logical observations), but either way class act Maria didn't...gave total props to the youngster for playing more aggressive, having to deal with the same conditions, and said she made more mistakes.

    Vinny Cordoba
    Vinny Cordoba

    @dayo1026_2000  , oh shut up already about Serena. You people are like zombies, with you constant obsession with Serena.

    ChrisM
    ChrisM

    @cleopatra209 You obviously didn't watch one second of the match.....Michelle LDB is one of the loudest on tour..she won?  So maybe Masha shoulda screamed louder.  

    Informed observations make the best comments...just sayin!

    spystud
    spystud

    Can you please use your incredibly original nickname for her on EVERY SINGLE POST? It is so tired. If you actually watched the match, which I'm sure you didn't, you would know de Brito screamed every bit as loudly as Maria. Like dayo says above, Maria just got outplayed, period.

    spystud
    spystud

    @ChrisM  Don't engage her.  She gets her kicks out of dumb, recycled nicknames & pretending she has a clue.  We all know better.

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

    @ChrisM @cleopatra209 you are making an unfounded assumption. i started watching the match sometime between 0700-0800 on the west coast. i turned it off, after listening to the screaming for a few minutes. i knew that it was going to be loud, but, it was overwhelmingly loud. yes, i could have watched the match with the volume turned down, but, i cannot enjoy tennis that way. later after i saw the results on SI, i went back to watch the match on ESPN3. LDB is loud, too, but, SCREAMAPOVA STILL TOPPED HER. so, that is my informed observation...just sayin!

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

    @spystud last time i looked i was in america and can say SCREAMAPOVA whenever i feel like it. so, get over yourself. i do not try to tell you what you should say and how you should say it. WANNA BE A STUD!

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

    @spystud "wanna be a stud", here you go again. mind your business. you're just upset that SCREAMAPOVA LOST, BADLY  and to another screamer. she was outplayed and out outscreamed. you don't have to be a hater, hater!

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

    @Vinny Cordoba vinnie barbarino, why do you continue to address me. mind your own business! yes, i suppose that i could use more caps; would you like to see?  CAPS, CAPS! why are you using caps? is it a childlike need to get ATTENTION, TOO?

     now who are you to tell someone to shut up about SERENA. she happens to be the number one ranked female player and proves it by whipping the crap out of screamapova, every time they play. i know that it hurts you, but, that is just the way that it is. screamapova should feel blessed that she will not be meeting SERENA and getting whipped and embarrassed in front of the world, again! SERENA,SERENA,SERENA. just thought that i would leave you with a few more CAPS! now go to your room, vinnie barbarino!

    Vinny Cordoba
    Vinny Cordoba

    @cleopatra209   , could you use more ALL CAPS please? Using ALL CAPS really serves to bring your points home. It's EXACTLY what children do to GET ATTENTION!!

    spystud
    spystud

    3 posts, 3 uses of the same nickname. Keep up the good work, I'm done bothering with you.

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

    @Vinny Cordoba @spystud OK LITTLE BOYS!!! i'm an adult, but you both sound like you are early adolescence! SCREAMAPOVA WAS OUTPLAYED AND OUTSCREAMED!